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The Roar


Women's World Cup equations: What every team must do to make the KO stages

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30th July, 2023

With match day 3 at the Women’s World Cup upon us, let’s bust out the calculators to determine how each side that still has a pulse can progress to the round of 16.

The hierarchy of tiebreakers, if two or more sides are even on points, is as follows: goal difference, goals scored, head-to-head results.

The equation is simple for the Matildas: barring Nigeria suffering an unlikely defeat to already eliminated Ireland, Tony Gustavsson’s side will need to beat Canada at AAMI Park on Monday to qualify for the knockout stages.

A draw will be enough for Australia to go through in the unlikely event Nigeria lose to Ireland, and the Matildas finish with a better goal difference than the Super Falcons.

We know the Swede will have Sam Kerr at his disposal but she is still not fully fit, and may not start the all but must-win fixture.

Group A

New Zealand vs Switzerland (5pm Sunday)

Norway vs Philippines (5pm Sunday)


Standings: Switzerland 4, New Zealand 3, Philippines 3, Norway 1

Next stage: 1st Group A plays 2nd Group C, 2nd Group A plays 1st Group C

Scenarios: A win for co-hosts New Zealand will seal their first-ever round of 16 appearance in a Women’s World Cup, however should they go down to Switzerland or draw, a Philippines or Norway win will send them packing.

Switzerland can seal top spot in Group A with a victory over the Football Ferns, but can still be eliminated if they go down to the co-hosts and Philippines win, or if Norway claim three points and overcome their goal difference disadvantage.

That Philippines-Norway tie is must-win for Norway, while Philippines will go through with a draw, depending on goal difference.

Group B


Australia vs Canada (8pm Monday)

Nigeria vs Ireland (8pm Monday)

Standings: Nigeria 4, Canada 4, Australia 3, Ireland 0

Next stage: 1st Group B plays 2nd Group D, 2nd Group B plays 1st Group D

The Matildas must beat Canada to progress, unless they eke out a draw and Nigeria lose to Ireland by enough goals to tilt the goal difference equation in Australia’s favour.

A Nigerian win will likely see them finish at the summit of Group B, depending on goal difference, while Beverly Priestman’s side will qualify for the next stage with a draw in their final group stage match.

Ireland have already been eliminated.


Group C

Japan vs Spain (5pm Monday)

Costa Rica vs Zambia (5pm Monday)

Standings: Spain 6, Jamaica 6, Costa Rica 0, Zambia 0

Next stage: 1st Group C plays 2nd Group A, 2nd Group C plays 1st Group A

Scenarios: Group C is an easy one for the arithmetically challenged, like myself: Japan versus Spain is a shootout for top spot with both sides already qualified for the knockout rounds. A stalemate in Wellington will see Spain top the group.

Costa Rica and Zambia have already been eliminated from contention.


Group D

England vs China (9pm Tuesday)

Denmark vs Haiti (9pm Tuesday)

Standings: England 6, Denmark 3, China 3, Haiti 0

Next stage: 1st Group D plays 2nd Group B, 2nd Group D plays 1st Group B

Scenarios: It’s hard to see anything but a win for the Lionesses which will see Sarina Wiegman’s women top Group D. Denmark need to win to secure their place in the next round, while a draw will be enough unless China can cause a huge boilover.

The two sides progressing from this group will meet the two from Australia’s pool, Group B, meaning the Matildas will most likely play Denmark in the round of 16 if Tony Gustavsson’s side can win in Melbourne on Monday.

Mary Fowler celebrates scoring a goal.

Mary Fowler celebrates scoring a goal. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Haiti can only progress with a win over Denmark, assuming England defeat China.

Group E

United States vs Portugal (5pm Tuesday)

Netherlands vs Vietnam (5pm Tuesday)

Standings: United States 4, Netherlands 4, Portugal 3, Vietnam 0

Next stage: 1st Group E plays 2nd Group G, 2nd Group E plays 1st Group G


Scenarios: A Netherlands victory over Vietnam is the most likely result from that clash, which would leave the Dutch side on 7 points. They will be looking to not only win the match, but put pressure on the United States with a big win to pad their goal difference.

United States will qualify with a draw, while if Portugal can cause a big upset at Eden Park they will go through to the knockout stage, sending the two-time defending champions packing.

Vietnam have already been eliminated.

Group F

France vs Panama (8pm Wednesday)

Brazil vs Jamaica (8pm Wednesday)

Standings: France 4, Jamaica 4, Brazil 3, Panama 0


Next stage: 1st Group F plays 2nd Group H, 2nd Group F plays 1st Group H

Scenarios: Jamaica have put themselves in a good position in Group F, needing only a draw against Brazil to progress, while it is a must-win clash for the silky Brazilians: anything less than three points will see a disastrous exit from the tournament.

France will more than likely top Group F with a triumph over Panama in Sydney, who have already been eliminated.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Group G

Argentina vs Sweden (5pm Wednesday)

Italy vs South Africa (5pm Wednesday)


Standings: Sweden 6, Italy 3, South Africa 1, Argentina 1

Next stage: 1st Group G plays 2nd Group E, 2nd Group G plays 1st Group E

Scenarios: Sweden have already shored up first place in Group G with their insurmountable goal difference so they may take a more relaxed approach to their clash with Argentina, which the South Americans must win to stand any chance of progressing.

Italy must beat South Africa to ensure their place in the knockout stage, while a draw will be enough unless Argentina beat Sweden.

South Africa must beat Italy to progress – a draw will not be enough.

Group H

Germany vs South Korea (8pm Thursday)


Morocco vs Colombia (8pm Thursday)

Standings: Colombia 6, Germany 3, Morocco 3, South Korea 0

Next stage: 1st Group H plays 2nd Group F, 2nd Group H plays 1st Group F

Scenarios: Colombia need only a draw to top Group H, while their opponents will require all three points and be hoping for a draw or very improbable South Korean triumph in the other match.

Germany require a win to guarantee their spot in the next round, but will still progress even if they lose and Colombia defeat Morocco as expected.